The Madras High Court has held that the law does not give absolute license to YouTubers and social media to spoil the reputation of others. The Court held thus while ordering the anchor of YouTube channel Karuppar Koottam to pay damages of ₹50 lakh to Seva Bharathi Tamil Nadu for a defamatory video.

The Youtuber had linked Seva Bharathi to the custodial death of two Christians inside a Police Station to eliminate Christianity with the support of the RSS.

The bench of Justice N. Sathish Kumar observed, “Merely, under the pretext of freedom of expression, one cannot make interview intruding the privacy of others, the Law does not give such absolute license to the Youtubers and the social media to spoil the reputation of others.”

In the present case, Plaintiff Seva Bharathi, a charitable trust filed a suit seeking damages and permanent injunction against Surender alias Naathikan, anchor of YouTube channel Karuppar Kootam who in its video telecast made allegations against the plaintiff for the murder of Jayaram and Bennix, who were of Christian community inside the police station.
As per the plaintiff, the video also suggested that the plaintiff is supported by RSS and it may aim to eliminate the Christian religion.
Senior Counsel S. Ravi appeared for the Plaintiff.
The Court noted that the absence of the defendant indicated that he was not denying allegations against him.
“When the public were already agitating in respect of custodial death of two persons in police custody, circulating such false allegations without any semblance of truth and portraying the plaintiff in a bad light in the eye of public is nothing but clear case of defamation with a malafide intention.”
Court observed.

The Court further noted that the portrayal of the plaintiff as someone who was against one particular community and that they aimed to eliminate such a community was a malicious statement that tarnished the image of the plaintiff.
As per the Court, such statements were serious allegations and the plaintiff was entitled to claim damages.
Thus, the High Court granted a permanent injunction restraining the defendant from posting any messages that were defamatory or like threats against the plaintiff.
The suit was decreed for damages of ₹50 lakh with costs as against the defendant.
Cause Title: Seva Bharathi, Tamil Nadu v. Surender @ Naathikan

Senior Counsel S.Ravi, M/s.Gupta and Ravi